If you’re trekking the Tour du Mont Blanc, or plan on staying overnight in any high mountain refuges in the Alps, you will need to buy a sleeping bag liner as part of your kit or rent one. Refuges only provide a mattress, pillow and duvet – no sheets. It’s forbidden to stay without a sleeping bag liner (which amusingly in French is called a sac à viande (meat bag).
We tested both Rab’s traveller sleeping bag liner (£60.00) and Rab’s long silk sleeping bag liner (£55.00) during our Tour du Mont Blanc trek and can safely say that this little piece of kit has now become my new best friend. They would also have been perfect for our bothying adventures in the Scottish Highlands.
Read our Rab sleeping bag liner review below if you’re wondering if you really need a silk sleeping bag liner over a cotton one (I’m telling you that you do!) and what sleeping bag liners actually do.
Sleeping bag liner review – Rab silk traveller and silk long
Product Description: A 100% silk sleeping bag liner, designed to add comfort and protection to your bag.
Rab liners come in a variety of materials, shapes and sizes to compliment different sleeping systems. Rab has five different 100% silk liners, the Traveller, the Long, the Standard, the Mummy or the Double. All would be perfect for hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc as silk is super lightweight taking up almost no weight in your pack! We tried both the Traveller and the Long on our treks and compare them below.
Rab Silk Sleeping Bag Liners
Both the Traveller and the Long Rab silk liners are luxurious, feeling soft and silky on your skin.
The extra layer gives another layer of warmth adding 1-2 degrees on top of your sleeping bag. This means you can use a liner to ramp up a 2-3 seasons sleeping bag and to make your sleeping kit more versatile for different destinations and conditions.
Silk liners are designed for use in warmer climes and are much more lightweight than their cotton counterparts (compare the Rab Silk Traveller @ 155g to the Rab Cotton Traveller @ 460g). They are the perfect companion on long distant warm weather hikes like the Tour du Mont Blanc.
Sleeping bag liners have two purposes – one to add warmth and two to keep your sleeping bag clean. By using a liner which you can wash frequently (Rab suggest a 20 degree wash), you can wash your sleeping bag less which will in turn extend the life of your sleeping bag – which, if you’ve invested in a high spec one, will pay dividends.
With regards to comfort silk over cotton is the clear winner. Silk is light and luxurious feeling incredibly soft against your skin. It’s a real extravagance to be able to cocoon yourself into, particularly if you’re squashed into a sleeping platform in one of the larger refuges. I rarely have any luxuries on my travels but my Rab silk sleeping bag liner and Liberty’s silk eye mask (with lavender sewn in) can transport me out of any fetid dorm reverberating from countless snoring exhausted hikers and into a snug, secure den.
What’s the difference between the ‘traveller’ and the ‘long’ versions of Rab’s silk sleeping bag liners?
The Rab silk long sleeping bag liner is the same as the standard liner but with an extra 25 cm length. The long size is 92cm (36in) by 210cm (83in) and the shape is standard rectangle. This model does not feature a fold back pillow slip. Weight 158g.
The Traveller sleeping bag liner has even more extra length and a fold back pillow slip, designed to add comfort and protection to your bag. Weighs 155g
Personally I prefer the traveller purely because of the attached pillow slip. Both come in a neat stash pouch with strap than can attach to your backpack. Both do not have a side opening meaning you need to wriggle in and out of them, but means they keep in more heat.
The Rab silk sleeping bag liners are not the most affordable and won’t suit everyone’s budget, but we reckon most of the time you get what you pay for and Rab is a trusted outdoors specialist brand. Their entire range encompasses all layers, allowing alpinists, climbers, explorers and mountain enthusiasts to push their limits in the most hostile of environments. We weren’t disappointed and would give both these silk sleeping bag liners five stars for performance, comfort and quality.
Why use a sleeping bag liner?
Needs must in refuges but actually sleeping bag liners are a pretty good idea full stop.
Sleeping bag liners ensure that your sleeping bag remains clean and fresh, giving extra comfort and reducing the need to wash your sleeping bag, which will, over time, increase the life span of your sleeping bag.
The extra layer of material can increase the warmth rating of a bag by 1-2 degrees plus silk sleeping bags add a layer of cosiness and luxury.
Sleeping bag liners used solo are a great sleep aid in hot countries whilst travelling – particularly on semi dubious mattresses, where they are an extra layer against bed bugs or insects.
What type of sleeping bag liner should I buy?
Who knew that sleeping bag liners come in so many shapes, sizes, weights and fabrics? You do now (that you’ve started researching online!). It can be mind boggling trying to figure out which one will suit you for your needs. Start with the climate that you will be heading to. If it’s hot, go silk. If it’s cold, go microfibre.
Cotton or silk are the two main fabrics used for sleeping bag liners, although cheaper versions can be made of polyester or warmer versions if you’re heading to extreme cold climes are made from microfibre. Cotton is heavier and bulkier than silk but much cheaper. It also won’t offer much in the way of warmth. It also will take much longer to dry than silk if you need to wash it on a longer trip.
If size and weight is an issue – like on the Tour du Mont Blanc, then silk is definitely the way to go.
Most liners are rectangle, envelope or mummy shaped. The advantage of envelope is that they have an opening side so easier to get in and out of, but won’t be as warm because of this. Mummy styles fit more snugly into the classic sleeping bag shape. Rab does a mummy liner which is designed for use only in technical sleeping bags.
Some liners come with a head hood, others don’t. In my experience I’d always advise to get a head hood to increase comfort and to discourage any creepy crawlies from sharing your bed at night.